Sunday, September 19, 2004 

'Even if I end up killed'
by Suzzane B. Salva.

    "I will go all the way with this crusade even if I get killed," said 58-year-old businessman Miguel del Gallego. "What else can I do? Somebody has to do it."

      It's been a one-man, seven month campaign for del Gallego in his unfamiliar role as sleuth, court record digger, and advocate.

       Running his industrial parts supply company in Mandaue City has taken a back seat to tasks like visiting isolated crime scenes, interviewing witnesses and explaining his progress  in radio talk shows and a journal.

        His full-time mission: to save a life by proving the innocence of his daughters' friend, Paco Larraņaga, who is sentenced to death by lethal injection in the celebrated 1998 Chiong case where six other Cebuanos were convicted.

      After his tearful departure last Feb. 20 (2004) as chairman of the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) Visayas chapter, a civic group he had led for over 10 years, del Gallego's days have been consumed with a post-Chiong investigation and trying to get a last-stage reversal of the sentence.

      In a quiet third floor of Degalen Industries, his company in Subangdaku, Mandaue City, he pores over court records of the 1998 court trial.

         The master's bedroom has been replaced by a "war room" -- a study table, a white board posted mmm

SOLO QUEST. Mike del Gallego points to crime photos of the Chiong case, which he analyzes with a growing collection of court records inside his "war room" in his business office in Mandaue City.            Photo by Lito Tecson

with notes and another table holding nine piles of folders of newspaper clippings and courtroom transcripts.

      When the road gets lonely, del Gallego looks up at a quote on the wall: "The truth is on the march, and nothing shall stop it." That line comes from an open letter by Emilie Zola, French novelist and critic, founder of the Naturalist movement.    

         The power of that letter, "J'ACCUSE", written in January 13, 1898, reopened the case of Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish army officer, who was sentenced to Devil's Island in French Guiana after being falsely charged with giving military secrets to the Germans.

         For being so vocal, the writer was sentenced in 1898 to imprisonment and removed from the roll of the Legion of Honor. He escaped to England and returned after Captain Drefus was cleared.

         Del Gallego said he doesn't foresee that fate for himself, not while we live in a society that prizes free expression. "We are now in the 20th  century. The Supreme Court will not jail a person for coming out with the truth. The truth is that important," he said.

                                  DOCUMENT REFORMATTED FOR  CLEARER APPRECIATION.                                        

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